Home, PERSONAL GROWTH

Heal…Healing…Healed

Well…almost healed. Yesterday, was the first morning that I’ve woken up and started moving around like my normal self. I am still tender to move up and down stairs or stride around easily outdoors but on the flat even surfaces of the house, it is great. What a relief!! I know it is not perfect and complete healing is still going to take months, but I finally feel energized! I haven’t posted anything during this whole escapade with my ankle. It was just too hard to “speak”.  I basically put aside social media. Some would grab onto it to keep them connected and sane but in my situation, I had to put it away. It would have pulled me down or rather, I would pull myself down.  I was already somewhat physically removed, and I couldn’t take the reminders that results from browsing things such as Facebook. Also, the negativity that is out there would overwhelm me when I was already feeling vulnerable and on tenuous ground.  

Everything was hard. Sleeping was frustrating and broken because of pain and the discomfort of having this big log, AKA cast on my leg and foot. I can’t count how many times I woke up from kicking myself or trying to turn without getting tangled in blankets. Getting up to use the washroom in the middle of the night, on any given day is a bit of a pain.  These days I’m lucky if I sleep right through the whole night. In a no-weight bearing cast, well you can just imagine…

But I managed. Somehow, I survived with the help of my family and my stubbornness to not complain too much. It is what it is, and I needed to be positive. I surprised myself because I was so wary of getting depressed and being emotional. I am not good at asking for help, for the big or the little things. I had to ask a lot of my family. I texted friends a bit but not a huge amount. I feel guilty for the little bit that I did because they had to be a consoling and comforting ear and it pains me to put others in that position for my benefit. So, considering or despite, how much I cut myself I did ok.

Home

Broken Bones & Getting Around Woes

So this is what is happening these days. I have never broken a bone before. That is until last month. My ankle no less, my right fibula to be precise. I was in denial when I fell and thought it was just a serious sprain but the doctor in emergency confirmed that yes I did break it and would have 6 weeks of no weight baring drama to contend with. Oh my gosh!! At 47 I have broken my first bone. I was afraid of this. Afraid that as we age, the dangers of slipping and falling – the resulting injuries are really beginning to come true. I have been doing things over the past while to improve my diet and overall health. But this has really made me think, and realize that I have to up my game.

Oh, and did I mention it was my right one – my driving one? I am sure this happened just to make sure I don’t push the limit and hobble my way to the car and into town to run errands. I am house bound.


Recipes

Soy Sauce Chicken Wings

I’ve been craving my mom’s cooking. I made soy chicken wings with rice which I haven’t done in a while. You’d think I might need a recipe or at least a refresher on how to do it. It was satisfiying to recreate this dish from memory and have it turn out. I had run out of my soy sauce a couple of months ago and have had a hard time finding the kind I am use to, at the local grocery stores, so I wasn’t sure what would happen.

Here’s my list of ingredients for this meal.

  • Chicken wings and cutlets
  • Onions
  • Dark soy sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Brown sugar
  • Star anise or chinese 5 spice
  • Approximately 1/4 cup Water
  • Cornstarch
  • White or brown rice
In a wok or frying pan saute chopped onions until tender. Turn heat to medium high to high and add enough oil so that it coats the chicken as it is being tossed around. Do this until chicken is cooked and browning on the outside. If you are using thighs you can cover an lower the heat while they cook.  Add finely chopped ginger root and garlic.  Stir until you smell the aroma and pour in mixture of soy sauce, water, cornstarch and sugar. Add star anise if you wish but I ofter find the sauce is tasty enough. Stir until chicken is coated and simmer until liquid reduces and thickens slightly. Serve an top of a bowl of warm rice with some crunchy garnish such as chopped green onions or a handful of sprouts and you have yourself a mouth watering fun dinner.
PERSONAL GROWTH

More Than a Few Books on My Shelf

Books are a weakness of mine. I have always loved reading. I enjoyed it immensely growing up. I remember spending hours sprawled across my bed or tucked in the corner of the couch. I read all through the night on many occasions. I am sure my mom wasn’t fond of me sleeping until three in the afternoon to catch up on sleep but I don’t remember her ever discouraging me from reading my books. She always kept my bookshelves full of the stuff I loved, and as I grew supported my attraction to stories. I made my way through series like Nancy Drew and Little House on the Prarie. Reading was such an escape for me. It still is when I get a book that really grabs me.

The past few years have been full of false starts. I’ve picked up many books, read part way but have actually completed only a handful. These books sit on my shelf patiently waiting for another chance. E-books also wait quietly out of sight on my Kobo. It isn’t that I didn’t enjoy them. I am just too distracted and often find that I don’t leave enough down time for myself and when I do I am usually so tired that I just want to sit mindlessly relaxing in front of the tv. I used to be such a crazy reader. I often found myself engrossed in a story, fact or fiction. Soon after I finished one I’d be into the next. So what’s happened?? I’m busy, but not so much that I shouldn’t be able to pick up a book.

There is so much talk and study about the effects of technology – our devices and social media, on our brains. You don’t have to read an article or watch a news story to see how involved we are with our phones. They are not just phones anymore. Our lives are so integrated with them that it is hard to let go and not be so reliant on it for everything. During the summer I made a conscious effort to not pick up my phone and browse aimlessly. when I went outside to relax on the porch or at the beach I left it inside or in my bag and brought out a book instead. And you know what? It worked. as I read more the material carried me and it wasn’t a struggle, much to my relief.

I read The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westall, Unprocessed by Megan Kimble and Zero waste home by Bea Johnson. These books all had a purpose partly for research and interest but also they entertained. The fauna reminded me of Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall – women who deeply moved me and helped solidify my love of animals. It was set in Canada which brought it closer to home. A true story that I could tie and make connections to from my memory of the past. I was intrigued in when they made mention of some past event or name that I already knew. So it pulled me in when I picked up and began this book that had sat on my shelf waiting for its pages to be turned.

DECLUTTERING, Home

Clearing Frenzy

Jan 1st
Today I got rid of an old t-shirt, my husband an old t-shirt, and my daughter a stuffy. I’m bringing along my family on this venture of clearing out the excess. I can’t do it alone. If the past couple of years has shown me anything it’s that we have to work on this together and be on the same page, or at least simular. It’s discouraging when I’ve whittled a lot of my own closet out yet still trip over piles of toys, laundry and things to put away. I’ve gone through our kitchen appliances and tailored it to our cooking and eating habits. Looking at belongings and attempting to make decisions on stuff that isn’t mine is torture. It’s not mine to get rid of even if I think it should go.

I have devised this plan to modify our stuff that is hopefully painless for everyone changing patterns and overcoming our fear of letting go. So things need to go out once it is decided that it’s going. If it lingers it continues to take space and energy up. Out of site, out of mind and then move on.

With this in mind, the plan is to do this every day. One object is all that is asked. A “moving out bin”, is hanging out by the stairs. Hopefully, we can build and keep a momentum of ridding ourselves of all the extras and along the way develop an attitude of just buying things we need and not be frivolous or impulsive spenders.

Happy New Year & see you tomorrow with our stack of 3 things!

Jan 2nd

A few more things were added to the bin of “stuff to go” at the top of the stairs: a pretty but way to small Chinese style top, a cookbook we no longer use, a couple of Walt Disney CD books and a copy of The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westoll.

Recipes

Congee (Juk) in the Instant Pot


Lately I have been making this soup in the pressure cooker and it turned out so good. It makes this tidy and quick soup the perfect meal when you’re wanting something warm and tasty.  If you’re interested in the stove top version go here.

Congee (Juk)


This is my ultimate comfort food!  Easy to make and I always have the ingredients – rice, water, chicken or beef, seasonings.
I loved all the meals my parents prepared growing up.  I sure had my favorite Chinese and western dishes alike.  My mom is a great cook and of the many, many things she has taught me, one of them is how to cook.  Growing up I watched her make tables full of various dishes to fill our bellies.
My father had dishes of his own and they are still some of my favorites.  Just thinking of them makes me salivate.  I love how the mind can conjure up flavors.
So here’s my instant pot version for congee/ juk:

  • Fill your pot with water until it is about 2/3rds full or to the about the 8 cup line.  Add chicken or turkey – whatever type of meat you desire that day. If you are making poultry use pieces with the bone in, for better flavor.  You just have to remove the bones from the soup after it has fully cooked.  Two chicken legs with the thighs work well. If you are using sliced beef add it at the end. If you are using fish make sure it is boneless and add it at the end. (You can also make plain juk/congee by omitting this part).
  • Add 1-1/2 cup of long grain rice. Do not use parboiled rice.
  • Add ginger and garlic if you wish. I prefer adding these minced in my bowl as seasoning.
  • Check the gasket on your lid to make sure it is properly in place before putting it on and in the lock position. Put the vent in the seal position and press soup button or manual for 35 min.
  • Walk away and let it do its thing!

I let it cool down normally to maximize the cooking time. With soups I find this is always the way to go to avoid sputtering from the vent. If you want it thicker you can press the off button and saute it for a bit to get the consistancy you like. I prefer mine a bit more brothier than my husband.  One of the best things about this soup is each being able to top each bowl off the way you like! So grab a hand full of radish sprouts, some fresh diced or grated ginder, a splash of Maggi sauce and a few turns of the pepper grinder! 

 

 

Recipes

Congee (Juk)

I have written out instructions here for the pressure cooker. I alternate between the two methods because sometimes nothing beats the stove top. Nostalgia I guess!

This is my ultimate comfort food! Easy to make and I always have the ingredients – rice, water, chicken or beef, seasonings.

I loved all the meals my parents prepared growing up. I sure had my favorite Chinese and western dishes alike. My mom is a great cook and of the many, many things she has taught me, one of them is how to cook. Growing up I watched her make tables full of various dishes to fill our bellies. My father had dishes of his own and they are still some of my favorites. Just thinking of them makes me salivate. I love how the mind can conjure up flavors. So here’s my version of a pot of Juk:

Fill your pot with water until it is about 2/3rds full. Add chicken or turkey – whatever type of meat you desire that day. If you are making chicken Juk I find using pieces with the bone in works best. You just have to remove the bones from the soup after it has fully cooked. If you are using sliced beef add it at the end. If you are using fish make sure it is boneless and add it at the end. (You can also make plain juk/congee by omitting this part.) Bring to a rolling boil.

– Add 1 cup rice.

– Once it comes to a boil turn the stove down to medium.

– Simmer for at least 1 hour or until it is the consistency you like. The rice grains will break thickening the broth. Everyone is different. I like mine more on the brothy side while M prefers his thicker like porridge.

– You can add water as the soup thickens.

Season your bowl with pepper and a drop of Maggi sauce, chopped green onions and finely chopped ginger root.

mmmm….yum

ESSENTIAL OILS, Lemon Essential Oil, Simple Switches, Zero waste

I Love Lemon

I love lemon. That’s all there is to it. For as long as I remember it has been my weakness. If there is lemon, in it I will come…probably.

Lemon in food has always been an exciting thing with tons of possibilities. Desserts are well known for their ability to make people salivate. The list of sweet treats is endless! I have always been partial to lemon squares myself. Then there is cooking with lemons … and my mouth is watering …

It has so many uses and If we look at its history and known properties we get the sense of how varied this simple citrus fruit can be. An Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Here are a couple of links that I found interesting and useful.

https://draxe.com/lemon-essential-oil-uses-benefits/

https://www.doterra.com/US/en/blog/spotlight-lemon-oil

I have been diffusing lemon essential oil in our diffuser for a refreshing air but also when someone in my house starts feeling a bit under the weather and needs a boost with their immune system. It has fended off or shortened a cold significantly many times around here. I will also pour hot mugs of water with freshly squeezed lemon juice and honey (making sure the honey is locally sourced).

My latest venture with lemon is in cleaning. I have replaced many of my chemical ridden solutions with safer ones. I feel better knowing that my family, including our dog, are not breathing in toxins that affect the bodies hormonal level in ways I don’t understand. I also clean more effective and frequently when I can breathe properly.

Another advantage to making this all-purposed solution is having fewer bottles around. I have streamlined my routine and made it more enjoyable, if you know what I mean. Cleaning is part of life and having it be a stress free thing can only be a good thing. I like knowing that I dont have to worry when my daughter uses it. Chipping in around the house is becoming more of a common thing as she grows up. I have been using lemon or lime essential oil with vinager for a while now but until recently I don’t think I was using enough. My last batch included approx 20 drops of lemon essential oil with 2 cups of vinager. I personally don’t add water.

Having a good sprayer makes all the difference! I had a mixture of spray bottles that I have collected over the years. they were all plastic though and if you are adding citrus oil it has to be glass or steel. The citrus breaks down the plastic. I transformed one of my larger mason jars with a spay lid that I got from a company that sells accessories that transforms Mason and Bernardin jars. It has a great spray which for me is important. A sloppy or drippy spray is a big source of aggravation. It has been a cleaning deal breaker occassions. Anyways, knowing how well they work I need to get a couple more.

One more thing…

Having a good stock of reusable wiping clothes is vital. I’ve done away with our paper towels for the most part. If you have enough cloths to last until the next laundry load you can easily grab a clean one when you need it. Even after rinsing it feels grungy to me to clean with the same cloth – depending on what it was used for.

Organizing

Working on Goals

This is the time of year that many of us reflect on our past and begin to think about the things we want to accomplish in the next. New Year’s resolutions are somewhat of a failed tradition, so this year I have decided to look at things a bit differently and instead reevaluate some of my existing goals. 

Today in my writing day. I need to set aside a time and for months it has been, “sometime during the week”. The thing is I let everything get in the way… I must do the dishes or the laundry, I need to pick up my daughter at school or I need to go grocery shopping. This is all true. It all needs to be done but not all by me and not right at this moment. Well, certain things do like meeting my daughter after school and appointments.  A friend pointed out to me though that it is a time management problem. She said it and I was embarrassed at first but then admitted to myself that she was right. I want to get better and I have been trying. I admit that I am an expert at procrastination. I have and always done it. I use planners and make lists but where can I improve?

I have to set a routine and realize it takes a while to stick. I have to remind myself to make an effort so that over time it will become a habit. The definition of a routine is:

Noun 1. a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.

Adjective 1. performed as part of a regular procedure rather than for a special reason.

It is a poor excuse to blame the world and everything around us. We all just have to make it work. It is too much energy to not be happy because you pushed aside doing what you love – I’m thinking of my writing and photography.

To simplify life this year – that is my goal. Granted, it is not new. I have been working on this one for a while now and have made some gains, but feel like a renewal of this resolution needs to make. Hence, I am making yet another list. So here is my plan, or goal if you will, to make life more fluid and hopefully fulfilling.

In no particular order these are my goals:

  1. Contentment with our space – getting rid of stuff, all the excess. I am really struggling with this one and I am not sure why. I have theories but it should not be so hard to get from here to there. It has been years of wanting to reclaim my space but I still am just scrapping that wall of excess. I thought maybe slow and steady was the way to go but maybe for me, it really is quick and painless. February 5th is Chinese New Year and so my goal is to have a lot of this place cleaned out before then. It gives a month and a half to just diligently follow a process of picking up an item and asking (Queue music), “Does it stay or does it go?”. Maybe I need some form of a support group to hold myself accountable. I am not fooling myself – it is a mental shift and a way of living and thinking that we have to live by. Ten years later we could be in the same boat if we don’t make ongoing daily changes.
  2. Simplify my cooking – cooking meals for myself and my family should be healthy and straightforward. I never have started the week with a menu but I feel that I need a plan a day or two ahead of time instead of going by the seat of my pants, cooking meals and what we eat can be simple and it usually is but it would be nice if I was a tiny bit more prepared on this one. Sometimes I feel like I am in and out of the kitchen all day making or getting food. And when family members are doing the same the kitchen and eating areas are in a constant state of disarray. What I need is a book or a list of my go-to meals that I can go through when I am stuck.
  3. Take care of myself  – eat well, exercise, meditate, etc.
  4. Photography and writing
  5. Delegate household responsibilities – It is a shared living space and respecting that is part of it. When it comes to maintaining a clean living space, everyone should take part. You are not doing any favours for your children if they don’t learn to recognize and live by this rule. Leave the bathroom the way it was when they went in. The same for the kitchen. Now, this is a bad one in this house and I grumble under my breath, sometimes aloud, about this. Pick my battles, right? This is one I put up with for years but with needing to set a good pattern for my daughter, I think this is a battle that needs be fought.
  6. Greening up/cleaner living – making those lifestyle changes that affect our environment, health and finances. For me, this is switching to reusables. Using less plastic and trying to lessen the amount of waste our household creates. This means critiquing the way I shop for food and other things such as clothes. It means this website and feeling the need to share these ideas, not for validation but for influence. I am also using essential oils to get rid of chemicals, replacing store-bought cleaners and replace some of the medicines we use such as cold and allergy remedies. Preventative measures. Aromatherapy is somewhat new for me. I’ve been exploring the possibilities of essential oils in a therapeutic sense.
  7. Create a routine – this goes back to where I started. I have to make an outline of my week and stick to it somewhat. Let that be the guide instead of the other way around. I am too flexible with my time and so when I shuffle my blocks of time around something gets pushed off the grid and either forgotten of the next time I come to it there is double or triple the amount of work to do. That is in part why I can never catch up. Something is always falling to the wayside that shouldn’t.
  8. A good weekly planner to make my days run more smoothly – writing down things has always been a thing with me. Whether is list scrawled on a back of a piece of mail or written neatly in a planner it helps me through my day. As well as keeping things organized there is a great satisfaction to crossing items off or looking at it by the end of the day and seeing what you accomplished.  I am a visual and kinetic learner, so it also imprints a virtual list in my mind when I physically write it down. This is why lists on my phone or the apps don’t work the same way. I need the actual action/sense or holding a pencil and paper. I have had a hard time finding a planner that works for me. I have tried many that left me dissatisfied with wasted columns and pages or layouts that just did not fit my lifestyle and actually distracted me more, instead of assisting me. I tried bullet journals, and this did not work for me either.  I journal a lot. Sometimes a short scribble or thought, other times it is a full out article.  So, what do I do?  I created my own planner.  It was a bit of work, in the beginning, to lay it all out, and I still fuss or tweak something occasionally, but it doesn’t waste my time and aggravate me when I am using it.  It is beneficial that I can make changes as needs evolve.